Using Google Scholar for Maryland Case Law Research
Go to googlescholar
Google Scholar now offers access to laws made by the judicial branch, also known as "case law" or "common law." Common law or case law is that body of law based on written opinions by appellate courts.
Searching case law via a computer is very powerful but the results you get are based on the words you enter. The top results may (or may not) be applicable to you.
TIP: Try multiple searches with different words or synonyms. Remember results are based on what the computer thinks you want. The computer has never been in a courtroom.
TIP: The top results may not be the best results. Good legal research requires reading a number of opinions.
When deciding the outcome of a case, courts rely on previous court decisions to ensure that the law is constantly applied. This is known as precedent. From time to time the court may decide that a previous decision was not correct. For example, beginning in the 1950s the United Stateís Supreme Court began to overturn its previous decisions that made it legal to have separate public facilities for people based on their skin color.
In Google Scholar you may find these old decisions. They are still part of the body of law but these cases are no longer considered "good law" because later court decisions have established a new precedent that future courts must follow.
TIP: Use the "How Cited" tab to see other cases that may have altered, overturned or reinterpreted the decision.
Judges make law by writing an opinion that explains how the law applies to a particular situation. Most opinions are organized into three sections. The first section summarizes the facts of the case. The second section reviews relevant court decisions, statutes, and regulations. The final section explains how the court has applied the law to the facts of that case to issue a decision.
TIP: The final outcome of the case is at the end of the opinion but it is important to read the entire decision to understand the courtís reasoning.
Frequently Asked Questions: Using Google Scholar for Maryland Case Law
What is Google Scholar?
What legal opinions are in Google Scholar?
Can I see if a case is still "good law"?
Can I search for just Maryland cases?
No. You can search just for Maryland opinions and just for Federal opinions, but not in a single search.
How quickly do cases show up in Google Scholar?
Can I search by citation?
Can I search by party name?
Can I search on a topic?
Can I search by code citation?
How do I cite a case I found in Google Scholar?
Updated: October 21, 2013
Types of Law in the United States
The United States Constitution is the blueprint for all our laws. Laws that affect our day-to-day lives come in three forms:
1. Law made by the Judicial Branch: U.S. Supreme Court, Maryland Court of Appeals
2. Law made by the Legislative Branch: U.S. Congress, Maryland General Assembly
3. Law made by the Executive Branch: President and Governor
Maryland State Law Library
Robert C. Murphy Courts of Appeal Building
361 Rowe Blvd. Annapolis, MD. 21401
Phone: 410.260.1430 | Toll Free in MD. 1.888.216.8156 | Fax 410.260.1572
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